By Daniel Chigundu
LEGISLATORS in the 9th Parliament of Zimbabwe yesterday expressed displeasure at the idea of serving only two terms like what is mandated for the President by the constitution.
Currently, there are no term limits for legislators in Zimbabwe which has seen some of them serving for more than five terms and a term is five years.
Legislators like Tapiwa Mashakada, Priscilla Misihairabwi Mushonga, Simbaneuta Mudarikwa, Tendai Biti and Paurina Mpariwa among many others have been in Parliament from as far as 2000.
Speaking in the National Assembly during debate of the President’s Speech delivered at the Official Opening of the 1st Session of the 9th Parliament, Chikomba Central legislator Tapiwa Mhona said while the topic of exiting is not a popular one, but legislators must consider leaving at the same time the President leaves.
“Mr Speaker it is incumbent upon us as Parliamentarians to know when to exit. This also applies to every leader Mr Speaker Sir. I might not be popular or famous in this regard, but it is very important and imperative for leaders to know the time to exit office.
“As mandated by the constitution, the President is actually mandated to have two five-year terms, making it 10 years in office. With your indulgence Mr Speaker, once again, it is my humble request to say, let it be the time as Parliamentarians to start thinking seriously about this notion, to say why can we not serve two terms as Parliamentarians so that as the President exists, we also exit and allow new minds to come into effect and serve our people,” he said.
His views were however met with loud grumblings from other legislators from across the political divide.
Being a legislator in Zimbabwe is largely seen by many people as a form of employment and also a means to easily get a vehicle.
Legislators usually get a monthly salary of $2000 inclusive of allowances and $75 for every day they sit on Parliament business as sitting allowances and Zimbabwe has about 350 legislators combined.
During the last Parliament, the National Assembly Honourable Chris Kuruneri who though visibly and physically unwell was not willing to give up his seat.
So dire was the situation for Honourable Kuruneri that he had to employ a nurse aid to help walk and he would at times fall during sittings.
Honourable Mhona added that while it is usually common for local legislators to want to die in office but they have to think about giving the future generations a chance as well.
“Mr Speaker Sir, it is common within us that we want to die in office but at the end of the day, we do these things for the future general,” he said.
His sentiments are in line with what former Bulawayo legislator Eddie Cross who retired to give way for what he called “new blood”.
The Chikomba Central legislator is however currently serving his second term in the National Assembly and all eyes will be on him when this term comes to an end.